Page last updated at 19:48 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Web misuse teacher can work again

Sian Mediana
Sian Mediana resigned after a check on internet use at work, the hearing heard

A teacher accused of spending hours on the internet in class has been found guilty of professional misconduct.

But Sian Mediana, 40, of Ogmore Vale, Bridgend, was told by the General Teaching Council for Wales she could return to teaching.

Ms Mediana, who resigned from Fairwater Primary School in Cardiff, claimed she surfed the web only occasionally.

She was told that she can return to teaching if she uses computers for school use only.

Ms Mediana said other members of staff had access to her computer, but the disciplinary hearing in Cardiff found her guilty of misconduct between October 2006 and May 2007.

I regularly checked my Lloyds account, I hold my hands up to that - I am sorry
Sian Mediana

They discounted an earlier period because there was no computer solely in her room.

Ms Mediana was told to access a "computer or internet solely for school duties" in future.

She was ordered to notify any headteacher of the order before being employed.

She was also ordered to provide teaching council officials with proof that she was complying with school computer policies.

Chairman Peter Williams said: "It has been said that she expressed contrition but she failed to show insight into her failings and sought to shift blame to others.

"Her attention was being deflected to the extent that it may have seriously affected those in her care.

"This is a serious case of misuse of school equipment. But it was considered that appropriate conditions could be formed to protect pupils."

Internet policy

Her barrister told the hearing that she was at risk of losing her house because of her financial situation.

Angus Halden said: "She may have sinned but has paid an extremely high price for it."

Earlier, two teaching assistants said Ms Mediana was often seen "trawling the internet".

Ms Mediana told the hearing that she did check her bank account and order school books from eBay on the computer in her classroom, but never during lesson time.

"I regularly checked my Lloyds account, I hold my hands up to that. I am sorry," she said.

She said this was either before or after school, or during breaks.

She said the head teacher Heather Thomas knew that she had ordered 60 books from eBay because she gave her the receipts.

She said she was never given a copy of the school's internet policy.

All this internet activity was specific to Ms Mediana's computer
Damien Phillips, for the General Teaching Council for Wales

She said it was standard practice for staff to use the computer suite for personal use at lunch times, and she had seen other teachers were booking flights on the internet.

Ms Mediana said she was not always able to leave the classroom during breaks because there needed to be at least two staff members with the children, so she used the computer in her room.

Asked why her colleagues said they regularly saw her accessing personal sites and eBay, she claimed: "They were scared of losing their jobs."

Asked if she was suggesting they were lying, she replied: "I am."

She also told the hearing her children used the internet when they came into class with her and that there were times when the internet was being used when she was not even there.

Computer screen

Summing up, Damian Phillips, representing the teaching council, said: "She disputes accessing the internet at the times in question, but she cannot give a conclusive answer as to how her computer was being used, if not by her."

He said Ms Mediana's teaching assistants, Wendy Jones and Karen Lawrence, had told the hearing she told them she was using the internet for personal use.

He said Mrs Lawrence had given evidence that Ms Mediana was on the internet for up to three hours a day.

Mrs Jones told the hearing Ms Mediana would turn her computer screen away from her pupils while accessing the internet.

"All this internet activity was specific to Ms Mediana's computer," he said.

"It is wholly unreasonable to believe other teachers were coming in during teaching hours, logging on to the internet using her computer and her identity."

Mr Phillips even if she did not have a copy of the school's policy on internet use, it was reasonable to assume such use would not have been allowed.

"The fact it was a class of children with behavioural difficulties means they would need greater attention," he said.

"It's not in dispute that she is a very capable teacher when she applies herself. All witnesses spoke very highly of her.

"The issue is she does not apply herself when using the internet during teaching time."

The local education authority carried out a four-day surveillance after being contacted by the head teacher about the level of internet usage at the school.

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